Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Deck of Cards

Over the years, my work has been reproduced on postcards, books, wine labels, calendars, & probably other items I'm forgetting here. I've always wanted to put my work on a deck of playing cards, but until recently this has not been possible, or at least too expensive to consider. However, I recently came across a company apparently based in Hong Kong, that will affordably put your photos or artwork on not only the back of playing cards, but also the front. This was a prototype, so I only used 16 images for the fronts (major suits plus 2 jokers), and also one ("The Eye of Heaven") for the backs. I had to crop the images slightly to make them fit, which is a compromise, but not too bad. I was quite happy with the results...I may do another version where all the images on the faces are different artworks. Watch this space...

The deck of Ayton artwork cards

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Rico Lebrun

Thanks to friends Scott & Betsy for the gift of this book, In the Meridian of the Heart (selected letters of Rico Lebrun). It's been on my nightstand for a while now, & I have actually read it (as opposed to just looking at the images). Lebrun is an artist who has been mentioned to me before, in the sense of someone who is not all that far away from what I do. It's true...I can see the parallels: he uses a lot of monochrome, his instinctual, emotional repsonse to the human figure resonates with me, & his influences of Picasso, Goya & Michelangelo are also not that far from mine. He is an artist well worth checking out, not as well-known as he probably should be. He died in 1964, so his work is from that post-war period (especially in the case of this book which concentrates on his later years (1950-68) & his stays in Mexico, New Haven CT, Capri, Rome & Los Angeles. His letters illuminate his struggles with abstraction & the human form, & the development of the mural of Genesis in Pomona CA, among other subjects. A very thoughtful & well-made book.

In the Meridian of the Heart, selected letters of Rico Lebrun

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Light Box

Strangely perhaps, I've never owned a light box before. Light boxes are most useful for transferring rough sketches to another sheet of paper to create a basis for a more finished artwork without having to eradicate the original piece, and for all kinds of operations where tracing of some kind is necessary. This box we made is quite large, being based around a sheet of plexiglass 36" long by 24" wide. The interior is lit by six LED bulbs (equivalent of 60w output each, warm light). I haven't used it in a real-world situation yet, but it looks like it's going to be useful. Huge thanks to my pal Jim Stevenson, without whose skills and efforts this would not have been possible. I did some of the easy work, Jim did all the rest.

I put a drawing on top of the lightbox for the first photo & turned it on, to give an idea of how it looks. The 1" holes in the ends are for ventilation, though the LED bulbs give off very little heat (the holes also reduce the weight of the box a little).

Light box with drawing on top

Illuminated light box

Light box in the studio

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day of Wrath and Renewal

The title of this drawing is a reference to John Martin's "Great Day of His Wrath", an apocalyptic vision, but here tempered with a sense of rebirth. From an ongoing series of images depicting the world.

Day of Wrath and Renewal, 2015, brush & ink on paper, 28.5" x 22.5"

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Destroyer & Creator of Worlds

A couple of years ago, I made a drawing entitled "Destroyer of Worlds" (a reference to the Oppenheimer quote). Today, to balance things out,  I created the antidote, "Creator of Worlds".

Creator of Worlds, 2015, brush pen on paper, 28.5" x 22.5"

Destroyer of Worlds, 2013, brush & ink on paper, 24" x 19"

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Survivors

This is the largest piece I've done in quite a relates to other series I've done, such as the Black Paintings (1999-2000), the Holocaust Series (2005), and of course The War Room (2003-2004). It's good to be working on a large scale again...

The Survivors, 2015, acrylic on unstretched canvas, 66" x 72" approx.

The Siren and Her Song

Here is another monochrome painting on cardboard. The sepia color of the cardboard gives a nice warm middle tone, so I leave parts of the surface bare or covered with a light wash of paint.

The Siren and Her Song, 2015, acrylic on cardboard, 48" x 36".

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


I haven't done a drawing in a while, so here is a new one. It's quite large, as drawings go. It was done with a Pentel brush pen, which has ink in cartridges—this drawing took up a whole cartridge. The brush pen isn't ideal, but it's pretty good. It cuts out the necessity of keeping dipping the brush in the ink pot, so it speeds up & makes the process flow a little more smoothly.

Elongated, 2015, brush pen on paper, 28.5" x 22.5"

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
My artwork is currently being extensively featured on the web site in the "weekly artist" category, which I would recommend as a good way for any other artist/s who may be reading this to gain exposure for their work. The site also has some very good & useful advice for artists in general.

If you are interested in having your work displayed there, please go to this link for further information (& have an artist statement ready to go). Many thanks to Miranda & for the feature.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Alive Inside the Egg / The Arrival of the Alchemist

A new large-ish monochrome painting on cardboard. It occurs to me that achemy is a good metaphor for creating art, or maybe creating art is a good metaphor for alchemy...

Alive Inside the Egg / The Arrival of the Alchemist, 2015, acrylic on cardboard, 48" x 36".

Thursday, July 09, 2015

DeepDream vs. my artwork

I just discovered Google's DeepDream visual tool...ostensibly created to help envision how neural networks function, but in actual fact a fun art toy to create disturbingly surrealistic artworks out of just about anything...

So, I thought if I put some artworks that were already at least vaguely surrealistic through the process, the results might be interesting...which they were (although DeepDream's repertoire does seem to be a little limited...dogs, birds, eyes, heads...). Judge for yourself below:

The Ruins of Babel

Empire of Death

Toward the Fountain of Life

Minotaur Completion

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Young Minotaur in an Arena

From an occasional series of images of Minotaurs...see also the previous posting.

Young Minotaur in an Arena, 2015, acrylic on cardboard, 48" x 36".

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monocolor Paintings

Here is a new series I've been working on for the past week or so. It started by accident (as so often happens) when a painting I was working on (Vestige, below) refused to make sense of itself & through a series of drastic changes became the red figure on a white ground as it now appears. I can't even remember what the original image exactly was, but it went through several (3 or 4) changes before simplifying itself into the iconic image it now is. I decided to try and continue on this path which had opened up for me...and I'm continuing to do so. I don't know how long or how far this will go.

Vestige, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 12" x 10"

Emptiness, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 14" x 11"

Green Angel, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 14" x 11"

The Rise of the Minotaur, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 14" x 11"
Reach, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 14" x 11"

St. Sebastian / Cerulean, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 14" x 11"

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Visitors

I guess this painting asks the question, "what are UFOs?", or "what are aliens?"...I don't know the answer to that, and I'm not sure anyone actually does. I did see a UFO in the sky once, about 45 years ago, from the school bus. However, it was just a thing in the sky & I still don't know what it was. I did a painting of it from memory here.

The Visitors, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 14" x 11".

Friday, May 22, 2015

The House Where Souls Grow

This is a small painting I did today that seems to say something profound on an emotional level...something about the idea of home...this one took me surprise, as I didn't know where it was heading until it just happened.

The House Where Souls Grow, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 14" x 11".

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Ruins of Babel

Here is a new painting of the Tower of Babel...I've done quite a few over the years (you can see some of them here). Also, I tried to photograph it last night, but it was too dark, so I took the underexposed image & played around with it in Photoshop (second image below).

The Ruins of Babel, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 14" x 11"
The Ruins of Babel, digitally modified in Photoshop

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Origin of Song

This one has a different color palette to what I normally use...I'm not sure about this might become a more finished, larger piece at some point.

I haven't done any drawings recently...I may be turning my attention to that area shortly. Stay tuned...

Origin of Song, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 12" x 10".

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Asleep in the World

This piece can be filed under at least 2 categories: The World Series and The Book of Creation. More on those later.

Asleep in the World, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 12" x 10".

Sunday, May 10, 2015


This small painting of a head entitled Blue is a piece I've been working on for almost a week & it finally came together today:

Blue, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 12" x 10".

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Landscape with Winged Eye

I'm still fond of Odilon Redon, apparently...

This was painted over an unsuccessful image...the eye remained from the previous painting, though altered. I often find that when a painting really isn't working, painting something else over it can fix the problem.

Landscape with Winged Eye, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 12" x 10".

Sunday, May 03, 2015

All the Colors of the Night

This small painting is my reflection upon the state of race relations in the US. This is intended to be an empathic image, rather than any kind of condemnation. We are all human and we are all fragile.

All the Colors of the Night, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 12" x 10".

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Time's Dream

Here is the actual painted version, as opposed to the manipulated version (as seen in the previous post):

Time's Dream, 2015, acrylic on gatorboard, 12" x 10".

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Time's Dream (digital version)

This is a new painting I did today. By the time I got around to taking a photo, it had gotten dark outside, so I tried to take a photo of the piece on the kitchen floor. Unfortunately, under the artificial lights, the photo didn't come out very well. I could have discarded the images, but instead decided to manipulate the least blurry photo in Photoshop to see if anything could be salvaged or even altered in an interesting way. This is the result...I think it's worth posting here & I will take a better photo tomorrow. In daylight.

Time's Dream, 2015, digital manipulation of an acrylic painting on gatorboard (12" x 10")

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Book of Creation

I'm not even sure what The Book of Creation is yet, whether it is a book or something else entirely. However, it's an idea that's been germinating for a while, so here are a couple of pieces that may be in it, whatever it may be.

Emergence, 2015, acrylic on board, 14" x 11"
Lost & Abandoned God, 2015, acrylic on board, 14" x 11"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Second piece on gatorboard

Below is my second (finished) piece on the gatorboard surface, The Mask of Morpheus. This is more of a monochrome painting (done over an ink & brush drawing, which can be seen underneath here & there). I am liking this as a surface to work on & am thinking of moving up in scale a little...

The Mask of Morpheus, 2015, acrylic over ink on gatorboard, 10" x 8"

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hawkish Old Man

This is an ink & brush drawing done on gatorboard, a kind of very sturdy foamcore that resists bending & warping. It has a useful cardboard-sepia colored covering that I tend to favor. I think I may be using more of this material to work on...we'll see...

Hawkish Old Man, 2015, brush & ink on gatorboard, 10" x 8"

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Megalomaniac

This is a large-scale sketch done in brush & ink on a large pad of newsprint paper. Probably the start of a series of large drawings...

The Megalomaniac, 2015, brush & ink on newsprint, 36" x 24".

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Veils of Existence and the Breath of Life

This is an image I painted on the front of a drawing pad...I originally intended to do a simple sketch to finish the book off, as it were, but it got out of hand and took several days to complete.

The Veils of Existence and the Breath of Life, 2015, ink & acrylic on drawing book cover, 17" x 14" approx.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Woman in a Headdress

I have a small backlog of new work that should be posted here...but you can catch up with the new pieces on my 2015 Gallery page on my main web site, if you like. Here is a drawing I did this morning:

Woman in a Headdress, 2015, brush & ink on paper, 16.5" x 14"

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The King of the World

This drawing (which might be a study for a painting) was partially inspired by Alexander the Great, the Macedonian King who conquered most of the known world during his lifetime. Allegedly, he wept when he learned there were no more lands to conquer. He died in Babylon at age 32 (of a fever, apparently) & his mummified corpse spent the next several centuries (before it was lost in the debris of history) on semi-public show in Alexandria (the city that bore his name) in Egypt, after a sojourn in Memphis. His body was mummified in honey & encased in a gold coffin (later replaced by a glass or crystal one). Roman Emperors would pay homage to his body over the centuries, until a combination of the end of the pagan era & natural catastrophes erased his tomb and mortal remains from the world...

In any case, for anyone who wants to "rule the world", it's an interesting cautionary tale. Here is the Wikipedia page, which is quite comprehensive.

The King of the World, 2015, ink on paper, 16.5" x 14"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Eight Eyes

First post of 2015...I have some catching up to do with this blog. First off, here is a little monster I spawned today:

Eight Eyes, 2015, brush & ink on canvas panel, 12" x 9"